From foundation, finding freedom in the body

How is it that we can be so cruel to ourselves that we wish we could chop off a handful of body fat?

I shot a short video this week for my upcoming workshops on body image. Lee, the videographer, had it all organized and planned out, she told me exactly what I needed to do. It couldn’t have gone smoother in that regard.

She prompted me to write down the good and the bad about my body. Both of which caused a different kind of dis-ease: I felt deeply saddened to see how easily I could conjure what I dislike and on the other hand slightly embarrassed or pompous for what I did like. Am I being bombastic by saying I’m damn sexy?FullSizeRender

Lee suggested we do a shot with me just in yoga pants and a bra. Sure thing! I’m comfortable practicing this way, so why not?

Before we shot I changed into a “better bra” – it made no difference but as I was pulling the black bra over my shoulders I realized I was doing this in an attempt to look slimmer. Oh my god. I stopped myself. I realized it made no difference which bra I chose or how I looked – what mattered was this internal dialog. This manipulation of my mind that I could care SO MUCH about which bra I wore for the shoot. Which bra would be more flattering to my tummy? Which bra would dig in the least on my back? This was what I was really looking for.

Now there were practical purposes: I wanted a black bra since the shoot was black & white and I thought that would read clearer on camera.

As I stood against the blank wall, holding my #BodyLove sign, belly exposed, Lee with camera in hand – I felt terribly uncomfortable. Lee asked me to smile. I thought “from where?” I felt like a lump standing in front of the camera. I felt like a TOTAL JOKE. I didn’t have this body image shit down at all!

But this is the reality of our relationships with our bodies: we are always going to have those moments, days even, where we can be really down on ourselves.

The last thing Lee had me do was a very brief yoga practice to get some movement shots. As I angled into side chair I could feel the little side rolls where my tummy and back meet. These rolls have been a sore spot for me. As a child I would look at myself in the mirror, tilt sideways and see how much fat I could gather in one hand. I wished I could cut it all off.

This time though, instead of hatred for the rolls, I had nothing but love and support.

It’s difficult to describe but this part of my body that I have tried for so long to make disappear is now one of my most favorite things about me. My perspective has completely shifted so that when in a side bend I feel the rolls building one on top of the other and like a solid foundation beneath a house, they hold my heart up. From foundation I find freedom.

When I stepped into my yoga practice during the shoot, I reconnected with my body. It felt like “Phew, OK, this is me. I am home.” I disconnected from the self-loathing thoughts and was able to transport myself to reveling in the shapes my body created. These shapes are unique to my body and mine alone.

The contrast is remarkable: between the judgement over the image I see in the mirror and that of feeling love for my body radiating from the inside out. It is such a full feeling that even the nastiest thought about my body can’t ever compete. A learning moment came from this video shoot which was to reinforce how powerful a yoga practice can be for appreciation and acceptance of our bodies.

When approached with an open mind and an open heart, the practice connects you with your body. This connection is pure and free from criticism, judgment, or hate. This connection is about love.

A deep thank you to Lee Tripler for her time and talent on the video shoot.
If you are local please check out my events page for information on the lululemon launch class & party (July 17) and a workshop at Catch a Healthy Habit (July 30).
#SummerofBodyLove

Tagged , , , , ,

It’s Safe to Feel What You Feel

2442995055_97a02d8124_z

It was my second class this week at the eating disorder treatment center.  There was already a palpable tension as I walked in, like the feeling of seeing a someone hold a knife over someone’s chest the moment before a major surgery…you just don’t know what might happen.

A soft sobbing shape quietly whimpered.  Women filtered in to do yoga with heads hung low. The crook in their torsos and abdomens hinted at a deep dark secret concealed below the layers of uncomfortable skin and shame.

Arranging the women so everyone had their space, pillows, blocks, etc., I placed a kind hand on the shoulder of the crying woman. A gesture to ask “are you alright?”, and let her know “you’re going to be okay”. As I settled in to teach, I had an urge to spill my guts to these these women. I felt they were suffering today especially. I wasn’t sure exactly what occurred, and no one said anything, but they could barely crack a smile.  I felt a familiar suffering as I settled in to teach.  It came over me with the urge to spill my guts to these women.

Inside I was overflowing. I so wanted to reassume them, “It’s going to be ok! Yoga saved ME! It saved me from an eating disorder. It will save YOU too!” It took a strength I found somehow to hold back the urge, and the tears fighting their way into my eyes.  The familiar knot in my throat telling me to scream out and then blocking the air as I try to just fucking let go.  I so wanted to solve and fix everything for them. But today was not the day. Instead I pulled another tool from my arsenal:  a study on trauma I recently read about.

Psychiatrist and traumatic stress expert Bessel van der Kolk was interviewed about childhood trauma and how it leads to brains wired for fear.

When asked, “are there effective solutions to childhood trauma?” I was ecstatic when van der Kolk mentioned a study on yoga for  PTSD.

He explains:

It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. When you’re traumatized you’re afraid of what you’re feeling, because your feeling is always terror, or fear or helplessness.  I think these body-based techniques help you to feel what’s happening in your body, and to breathe into it and not run away from it. So you learn to befriend your experience.

It’s about becoming safe to feel what you feel. This is what I experience and witness in my own healing through developing a yoga practice.

Yoga saved me from the self-inflicted trauma of an eating disorder. Yoga made it safe for me to feel and not distract; not brush under the rug or ignore. Instead I learned to feel.

I noticed what had happened to my body. I could physically feel the damage imposed each time I made myself vomit. I could feel the veil of self-loathing I coated myself in day after day, like a disgusting wet blanket.  I slept and woke with it.  Every inch of my body needed improvement. Nothing was beautiful, nothing was ever good enough..

Even with a strong yoga practice in place, healing was no easy task. I wrestled with countless gremlins. Deep, damaging, dangerous and persistent, they convinced me I deserve the pain as penance for some karmic wrongdoing.

Consistency prevailed. Consistent yoga practice, consistent emotional practice. I allowed the laughter  falling out of poses and tears in the middle of class when I felt my heart swell up like a bruise.. One step at a time, each day, reminding myself I wasn’t going to solve everything at once. This was where I would really begin to understand what it meant to go through a process.

This class challenges me on an entirely new level.  Many of the women I teach are not even past the first exercise level, meaning it is highly recommended they remain lying down or sometimes seated. It has thrown me through a loop and  forced me to question what yoga IS and how can it serve these women?

During our time together we make our way through some simple movements that are derived from what I am now teaching, the Bowspring Practice. Bowspring encourages truthfulness with ourselves and others. It inhibits  the “I give up!” posture, shoulder shrug and head tilt.

The last 15 minutes of class we sat on our blocks.  My eyes were closed but I peaked and saw it again so clearly: the slumping, the diminishing, the lack of confidence, glazed, empty eyes.

Slowly, I talked them through how to sit from the pelvis up. Together, we sculpted our postures into the radiating, exuberant beings that we are. I noticed corners of mouths slightly turned up (smiles!) and ribcages becoming fuller as the women started to beam in their seats.

A small step to practice sitting with fullness but immediately the energy in the room shifted. Carving our Bowspring posture held us in such a way that made room for sensitivity, for the vast spectrum of emotions, to flow freely. It was a communal, deep sigh of relief – with little effort.

It was a reprieve from the concealing and diminishing, and an exploration into what it means to stay big. An exploration, an invitation to FEEL like they were worth so much more than they allowed credit for.

I’m not anticipating saving these women’s lives from their eating disorders by teaching them yoga. But I hope they will get a glimmer of light from an hour of respite. I hope they will receive a reminder to be kinder.

It’s a learning process for me as well that I need to take this process with them, one day at a time. Some days are fantastic – everyone grinning ear to ear, able to participate fully in all the poses – and some days are just going to feel like wrangling a fucking mess, but at least we are wrangling it together.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Forgive and Let Live

“Forgiveness clears out the old weeds and lets the sunlight in.”
– from friend and soul teacher, Josh Kane

My friend was sharing with me about his recent reconnection with an ex-girlfriend, or in his words a “past love.” I prefer his term past love as it holds more reverence and respect.

His experience was such that he felt a genuine joy from talking to this woman who I am sure at one point or another hurt him in some way. But he expressed that because of his ability to forgive her, he was finally able to derive joy and learning from the simple experience of reconnecting and hearing that she was on a much better path. He felt happy not only for his past love, but also for himself.

There was no filter, no ulterior motive, no agenda. What existed in its most pure and powerful form was forgiveness.

It got me thinking about my own experience with past loves. About how I can’t reach out with an open heart until all has been forgiven. And it’s not that I feel compelled to remain best buds with my exes (believe me, I have tried and failed), but should the occasion occur where we are prompted to engage in casual conversation, or perhaps call upon one another for a family tragedy, it’s nice to know you can interact with integrity and respect. No agenda. No ulterior motives.

I want you to think about how it feels to hold a grudge. Come on – we’ve all been there, I know you’ve done it. I have! When we hold a grudge, when we hold onto the way someone hurt us, when we hold onto the OLD STORY, we perpetuate and live in the old patterns and habits. Even if we have found a new partner, new friends, or a new career. When we hold a grudge we are doing ourselves the greatest disservice: we are depleting our own energy (and time!) by festering on what might have been instead of relishing in what is.

How can we appreciate the person, the love, the compassion that is presented right in front of us when we are stuck churning over past pain?

I don’t want to discount experiencing feelings to their fullest. In fact, I realize the necessity to feel our full spectrum of feelings in order to be able to forgive. When we suffocate the hurt and pretend we are hunky dory, that’s when forgiveness can seem to be eons away. We build ourselves the proverbial “wall.”

Every forgiveness will not lead to a restored friendship or even an amicable relationship between past loves. Sometimes all it means is that you forgive someone in your heart and let live. You let them live their life and you go on living yours.

The big difference however is that when you live your life you no longer carry the old story, the resentment, the anger, or perhaps even the fear that a wrong-doing will happen to you again.

You are OK with the fact, with the plain and simple truth, that it’s highly probable someone in your life will hurt you again. And again, and again, and again.

Forgiveness benefits the other person, absolutely. But when we forgive we are actually giving ourselves a beautiful gift. We are giving ourselves permission to proceed forward. It is not that we forget those who have crossed our paths, loved us and hurt us – no, they stay with us like a dear old shoe. But we can move forward with grace, so that we can approach that person with respect and truth. And so that we can treat ourselves with utmost respect and truth.

It is in this way that when we enter into new relationships and friendships we recognize what our values are. So that we can surround ourselves with the best possible people.

For some reason I keep thinking back to a particular past love. Let’s call him Tyler.

Tyler and I had what you would call a whirlwind romance. We fell in love hard and quickly. The relationship lasted about two years and seemed to crumble just as fast as it was built. Of course in retrospect, I see that it was built on very dissimilar values and a lack of truthful communication.

In the end there was so much hurt. This was the first time I really felt that sensation of my heart being ripped out of my chest. Torn into shreds. And then stomped on by angry elephants.

Tyler and I reconnected about a year after our break up and of course we hurt each other again. Or really, I hurt him. Why? Because I had never forgiven him. What followed was a slew of who could hurt the other person more, with him finally coming out “on top” with a mean email to beat all mean emails in life. An email that made me feel like a worthless piece of shit. The communication stopped there. Right in its tracks. I realized that responding to him in a similar manner would do me no good. Would only perpetuate the hurt. But then what? What was next?

It has taken me nearly three years to realize that what is next is the process of forgiveness. Forgiveness that can happen even though Tyler is no longer in my life. We no longer communicate in any form or function. We haven’t in three years.

I will sometimes sit at my computer, compelled to write him an email letting him know “I forgive you.” But I realize that’s not what is important. I am not looking for a response. I am not looking for an explanation. I am looking for a sense of relief, of letting go of the hurt that has rested and made a home in my heart.

As the hurt is let go and as I continue my process of forgiving Tyler, I start to open new opportunities, new doors for love in so many different ways. I also realize how I can start to forgive in other relationships and friendships. I notice the price we pay when we hold onto our hurt.

If it happens to be a past love – or present – allow yourself to feel the hurt. To get angry. Maybe even write it all down – as if you would present this in a letter to that person. But find your way to release it and to enter the process of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is power. Forgiveness is freedom. Forgiveness is a gesture of absolute love.

It is the magic potion that clears out the weeds and lets the sun shine in.

Check out Josh Kane and incredible yoga teacher Jennifer Buckman at Pop Up Yoga CT this summer – Yoga + Live Music = LOVE! 

Tagged , , , ,

That’s their shit. Why you can’t please everybody.

IMG_7725I pay a lot of attention (ok probably way too much attention) to the unsubscribes from my email list. And I noticed that yesterday, someone marked my most recent email as “abuse.” My immediate reaction was a combination of expletives, anger, and a lot of complaining and attempting to explain why this had happened. (What had I done? I asked myself.)

This theme of pleasing everyone has come up a lot for me recently. Both for myself and for others very close to me.

I lived for a long time as a people pleaser. You could say I still do to a certain degree, but I am learning to let it go. Growing up and into my twenties I was constantly yearning to please my family, friends, colleagues, people I barely knew. God forbid I ever say something someone did not agree with.

When in the midst of trying to please everybody, or trying to control the outcome it now occurs to me … STOP, Just Stop. Because in no alternate universe do I please everybody, do I control the outcome, do I never offend.

I have always HATED the notion that a given situation might possibly be slightly uncomfortable, or extremely uncomfortable. (That there is MY own shit – and I’m working on being comfortable with discomfort, that this is normal, this is life!)

But then I remember: I am not a mind-reader. And you aren’t either.

And then I remember: there is absolutely no way I can please everyone. I probably can’t even please most of them.

I was at dinner with some friends and a hypothetical and potentially very uncomfortable situation came up. We were playing it out – how the situation might unfold and I chimed in “if they are disrespectful or unkind to you, that’s their shit.”

And oh how I needed to take my own advice!

It occurred to me it’s often as simple as that. If we go as far as we can for someone, through being open and honest and available, and yet there is still a lack of kindness and respect, then what it boils down to is: that’s their shit.

And guess what? It is highly likely that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, no amount of arguing or defending your case that will change that.

What’s funny is that I am writing this to primarily remind myself that …

I am not a mindreader.

I cannot please everyone.

If someone has a problem with me then most likely, that’s their shit.

But I would bet money that many of you reading this are in great need of that reminder as well. When do you find yourself bending over backward to gain acceptance? To please? To attempt controlling the outcome?

Maybe the next time you find yourself in that situation can you simply … let it go. And remember, You Are Not A Mindreader. You Cannot Please Everyone. Sometimes … That’s their shit.

Tagged , , ,

Webinar Series: Release Body Shame

I’m excited to announce a brand new webinar series I am launching this summer – beginning June 16!

Release Body Shame

Experience freedom from the entrapment of body shame.

Why Release Body Shame? And, what is it anyway?
I spent the bulk of my early twenties battling an eating disorder. It was primarily through yoga and a mindfulness practice that I was able to heal myself. My journey continues to this day as I work toward releasing my own body shame (buried deep within my own trenches) through developing a more rich practice that supports me as I get older.

Release Body Shame will be an experience that allows you to begin the self-inquiry pertaining to your own relationship with your body. We will open the conversation about body image as it pertains to our culture and ourselves as human beings.

Throughout the webinar series we will work with the 5 A’s: Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing – to better understand how we can change the story that we tell ourselves and how we can begin to better release the shame we hold onto about our bodies.

Click here to learn more and sign up today! XO

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Give yourself a break

My 2nd video blog – it’s up!

And I have a confession: I’m watching The Bachelorette tonight. There, I said it! And I’m letting myself off the hook for this one. No guilt. I’m focusing on the ‘wants,’ not the ‘shoulds.’

What are you going to give yourself a break for? How can you let yourself off the hook? Give yourself permission?

Write it in the comments: what are you letting yourself off the hook for tonight or today?

Because honey you rock.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Take Care

It’s been a weird, migraine-limbo day. I woke up with that “oh crap I’m getting a migraine” feeling … which wasn’t quite enough to completely dismantle me but WAS enough to have to miss my beloved Bowspring class and although I treated my migraine “naturally” I still felt all screwed up and out of control.

I so wanted my day to go as planned, to follow every step, every appointment I had on my calendar.

I managed to make it to a lululemon goal-setting afternoon but even so felt like I just wasn’t fully there because I had this fog of migraine that so palpably was separating me from the rest of the world.

I could feel it in my interactions with everyone I came across today.

When I came home from goal-setting I was more relieved than ever to slip into my most comfortable of clothes, curl up on the couch, and doze off to the continuation of my Parenthood binge. I felt comforted, sweet, and held.

I let go of needing to control the outcome of my day and held onto “take care of yourself Maggie.” Because sometimes that’s all we can do.

The obligations and need for control get in the way and I’m working, slowly learning, that when my body is giving me clear messages I need to listen. Not only that, I need to honor them.

Not surprisingly, I am starting to feel better as I crawl out of migraine-limbo. I’m so happy to see the sunshine and my newly blossomed orchid sitting so content on the window sill. I am happy that tonight I get to spend time with my guy and that tomorrow is a new day.

So, please go and take care of yourself darling. Lord knows you deserve it.

Tagged , , , ,

Triggers: Our Bodies Speak Volumes

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

Chin up! Photo credit: Ellie Tonev

When I hear the word triggers I automatically think of my migraine triggers: stress, the weather, excessive heat, excessive cold, tomatoes, eggs, pork, nitrates, msg, to name a few.

But I never truly considered triggers in that the way in which I hold my body has profound affects on my emotional and psychological health. That when I spend my day with my chin down, shoulders slumped – let’s call it the “I GIVE UP” posture – well, I feel like fucking giving up.

I never considered these triggers until my teacher Tracy really took us down that path Saturday afternoon in Bowspring class. When we meditated on our triggers.

Bowspring (for me at least) is all about holding a steady posture where you feel both solid and light, sturdy and at ease, confident and at home in your own body. We hold the Bowspring posture during a class so that we can find it with greater ease during life.

The triggers we notice are things such as:

  • Do I drop my chin and always look to the ground?
  • Do my shoulders curl forward?
  • Do I draw in my belly so as to feel smaller?

For most of my life, my answer to pretty much all of the above has been a resounding YES. Yoga and especially Bowspring Practice though have slowly helped me find my way out of these patterns and triggers. This path out has not only helped me feel stronger and eliminate pain, but also has given me a newfound sense of confidence – where I feel more at home in my body.

Growing up I was taller than a lot of the kids in school. I would wish every night to wake up skinnier and shorter. My tallness and gargantuan feet were a travesty at the time. While classmates were still shopping at Gap Kids, my mom started bringing me to Eddie Bauer and The Limited.

To say that I did not embrace my tallness and size would be an understatement. All I wanted was to feel small. I was desperate to fix:

  • my tummy so that it would quit sticking out (before I learned about the birds & the bees there was a period where I questioned “am I pregnant?”)
  • my feet to stop growing already (I’ve been a size 10 since about 5th grade – there, it’s out there, I have big feet!)
  • my thighs to not rub together when I wore dresses or shorts (they still rub together somewhat and when I run long distances, they chafe, ah well!)
  • my boobs to disappear (I wore baggy tops to conceal them until some of the other girls caught up)
  • and somehow I thought if I slouched enough, I would be shorter like the cute short girls.

I notice that even now, as I make my way into my early 30s, I still hold onto some of these beliefs that have manifested as triggers in my body.

Like the tummy trigger – oh the amount of time I have spent trying to suck that darn thing in! I spent years in high school and college perfecting a posture that would make my tummy appear concave or hollow. And I wonder why my back started spasming…

At the time the only part of my body I probably loved were my shoulders because there I noticed – bony protrusions! Ah-ha!

I’m not going to say that I have fully addressed all of my triggers. I’m not sure I ever will. But I notice them, oh do I ever notice them.

For instance when I was running the other day, I spotted my reflection in a window and immediately said to myself “EW, GROSS!” I said it out loud, right there on Knight Street. Why? Because I noticed my belly was sticking out.

So what did I do? I first tried with all my might to suck my belly in to make it go away. As I did this I started feeling totally uncomfortable in my body, realized “there’s a trigger for ya!”, and decided fuck it, who cares, I’m going to let my belly be free. Breathing feels better that way anyway and – cool fact – I have also noticed that when I let my belly be free and stop trying to suck it in when running, it is MUCH easier to lean into the run and to keep a faster, steady pace.

The greatest gift is that when I pay attention to my triggers, I feel a greater sense of “I’m at home” in my own body rather than wanting to fix or escape it. I give myself permission to be exactly as I am and to honor the very shape of me.

I encourage you to notice how you are sitting, standing, walking right now. How are you HOLDING your own body? Do you feel empowered in your own body or do you feel diminished and small? Perhaps simply try this cue: keep your chin up. And just see what happens when you make that your mantra throughout one day.

With Love,

Maggie

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Video Blogs and Getting Weighed at The Doctor’s Office…

Hey guys!

Today marks a monumental moment for me: my first video blog. Or does one call it a “Vlog”?

I know, there’s loads of these out there. But this is something that has been brewing in the back of my mind for months. Ok, maybe years. It took me 3 takes to get something that was sort of what I hoped for and then I just had to say to myself …

Screw it. I’m posting this.

Because the bottom line: it comes from my heart and it comes from my own experience. And I would be hard pressed to learn that not one of you can relate to what I felt this morning. Please take a look and post your comments. Happy Weekend!

PS. It is REALLY hard for me to watch and listen to myself. But I want to get these messages out – I want to keep this conversation going!

Tagged , , , , , , ,

You are so deserving

What happens when we get stuck in belief systems where we think we are not deserving of love, success, wealth, abundance, joy, health, or amazingdeserving 2 relationships?

Well I’m starting to see a pattern.

Whenever I am firmly set in a belief of “I am not worthy” or “I am not deserving” of something, it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. What do I mean by that?

I self-sabotage. I self-sabotage like a motherfucker.

I am in a (relatively) new relationship and, without going into any detail I will just say that it’s going really well. But despite my intense joy and fulfillment (MOST of the time) I sometimes find myself in a state of unworthiness, of feeling undeserving of this great relationship.

And it doesn’t hit me as obviously as you would expect. No, instead that feeling of being unworthy creeps in from behind and stops me in my tracks. It shows itself when I question intentions, start to lose trust, and become full of doubt.

Do I have good reason for this? Is this person I am involved with causing me alarm? Nope. Absolutely not. In fact, they are SO rock solid and trustworthy that I am constantly blown away that a person like this exists.

So what is to be done here? There’s got to be a way to shift this, to turn it around.

There is.

I actually expressed these sentiments to my new partner and he simply replied “You are so deserving.” I almost cried when I read them. I needed to hear those exact words so badly and it has become a mantra for me whenever I begin to doubt.

When I start to believe and live this mantra out loud I begin to see its manifestation not only in my relationship, but it starts to become easier to believe that I am deserving of other things in life such as abundance, financial success, professional success, emotional availability. My list continues to grow.

I’m not talking about wishful thinking here but instead building up on what already exists that is real and true. What is real is that I’ve got a guy who thinks the world of me – so I’m going to keep falling into this wonderful journey we have started.

What is true is that I am pouring my heart and soul into a career that is meaningful and empowering and therefor I have no reason not to create all sorts of abundance in this life.

What are some things that you feel undeserving of? Is it health? (I have struggled with this one as well with my migraines.)

Or maybe it’s feeling loved for the very person that you are.

Sometimes we need to hear those words over and over. Sometimes just saying them to ourselves doesn’t always do it. Seek out those people who are going to remind you that You Are So Deserving.

And I am here to remind you that, if you are reading this, you are so deserving.

I’m going to make you a promise right here, right now. That when you start to open up about this stuff, you start to heal, and you will start to grow and notice change. If you are fearful of sharing in an open forum then my inbox is always open.

With Love,

Maggie

PS. Book your FREE 30 minute coaching call with me today by clicking here. XOXO

Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 156 other followers